To be honest, I've always had a bit of a problem conforming to what was expected of me, going right back to my school days. I wasn't really bad, but it could be said I was a bit on the naughty side (and bright enough to avoid the dreaded detention). So, as one who has always marched to the rhythm of their own drum, now when EVERYTHING is so serious and guilt laden, I have to come to terms with the need to conform to the beats of the various samba tunes in the government's current hit parade. And shock horror, this new conformity isn't really about protecting me, but I'm doing it for others... the people I care about.
When are face masks mandatory?
Grant Shapps did his thing on Thursday, and it's now mandatory for everyone to wear masks on public transport from the 15th June. Now, I dislike the word mandatory as much as the next person, but it does seem just that little bit more scary today. So, I did what most of us do these days. I worried, got on the phone and spoke to my big sister (who is actually smaller than me) starting with the oh so intelligent question 'What do you think Jackie?'
As ever, she responded in a typically down to earth, yet over the top fashion. The Yorkshire people have been trading on this approach since way before the 'Four Yorkshiremen' was first performed by Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin (Palin is the only member of the group actually from Yorkshire) and that approach isn't going to change any time soon. Jackie responded, "It's not bloody rocket science". Of course something that covers your face and nose is going to help stop stuff going in and stuff coming out of you. (You need to do this in a strong Yorkshire accent to get the full effect).
Then, just like in the four Yorkshire men sketch, the conversation progressed.
"If you really want nowt to get in your mouth and do you damage, AND you're totally daft in the head, you could always tape up your mouth and nose, but that would defeat the object as you'd have left this mortal coil, this terra firma, this hallowed land because you'd be dead in a matter of minutes."
Will face masks be mandatory in the UK
At this point, it seems very likely! Having accepted that even a colander on my head, whilst hardly a fashion statement, (nor is it the trendy image I want to project in public), would stop a bit of 'nasty stuff' getting inside me. It now seems totally logical that wearing a fabric mask (in Irish linen - which is made in the UK believe it or not - it's a history thing) to keep others and myself safer makes sense.
Never one to accept the blindingly obvious, I decided to do a quick google on my phone and I just had to share one of the things I found out. Ancient Romans and way up through history linen was used to make condoms, tied with a ribbon no less! Those days condoms weren't really thought of as contraception, but as a way of protection against contracting a whole myriad of sexually transmitted 'diseases'.
In 16th century Italy, a chap called Fallopio claimed to have performed an experimental trial of the linen sheath on 1100 men, and reported that none of them had contracted the dreaded disease. We now know that Linen is anti-microbial, hypoallergenic, sustainable, comfortable and if you're a clean freak that needs that extra reassurance, it can be boiled. I mean the list is almost endless!
I couldn't help wondering why people who have the flu don't wear masks when they go out, though they did in the last flu pandemic. So, yes you guessed right, I asked my big sister; "Good grief, have you no wit, when you've got the flu you're too bloody ill to go out."
Having the flu is horrendous, it's not just a bad cold or even man flu. You remember Auntie Kitty? She got it, never left her bed for 3 weeks and lost nearly 2 stone in weight. She was lucky to survive. this virus - well you can have it and spread it to others - who will get it really badly - but you, well you might not even know you've got it. You're a cheese triangle so to speak - a super spreader"
But, I can't let it go, I need to look 'normal', not like an extra from a science fiction film. So call me vain if you like, but I really don't want to be seen out wearing one of those surgical type masks.
If I'm going to have to wear a mask more often, (most of the time according to) to get out and about and have some resemblance of normality in my life...I want to look the part. You know, the cool fashionista, (ex)globetrotter, 'you got it goin' on girl' look . As if I have ever looked like that anyway, but one tries! It's not just me , it's my nieces and nephews too.
SO yes, you guessed, their favourite auntie sorted them out with linen face masks for kids, which they have decorated in a fashion that even Sarah Burton ~(Alexander McQueen, who loves Irish linen), would be proud of.
"It helped also that the fabrics used were also used in their favourite films, though I now have my brother in law harassing me for a Game of Thrones mask."
Another confession I am a little bit of a tree-hugger too. Lets face it, those are the only hugs we've still got access to at the moment. 'Views', yes those things I hated as a child because they were BORING, have become the most desired and enjoyed entertainment in recent weeks as we all follow the rules.
I've a new stronger sense of what natural beauty really is and how just a few minutes spent 'taking in the view' can heal my soul, lighten the load and let me draw in a deep, deep breath of fresh air to cleanse my spirit. I don't want to lose this treasure once this is all over. I don't want to create tons of landfill or even worse, roadside, Tesco-Asda-Sains-side, or seaside rubbish by wearing a disposable mask. Surgical masks are for use in hospitals by our carers, that's where they belong.
My mate Duncan calculated to keep his workforce covered using disposable masks was going to cost in the region of £11,000 in the next year. He went for the 'one on, one off & one in the wash' rule, buying three Irish linen washable masks for each of them. He saved just over £10,000, and he's saving the planet too. What did the workers think when they came back this week? They put their money where their mouth is (not literally) and ordered more and for their families, too.
So it's back to work, confident that I won't be turned away in my mask on public transport, not just because I have my face mask on, but welI, I can not deny it, I look oh- so-good wearing my designer face mask.... strike a pose....you go girl.